Love Swimming This River America
Aliah Lavonne Tigh
Tell me you want to love me
in the round darkness
of midnight, 
                    far from town. See us
                    standing tall 

in the grass sway
of the shore. See nothing but me
on the bank. If there is a cage—we know—the kind
someone tied behind a truck’s exhaust pipe
filled with both iridescent crow
and sparrow— 
                    you, take my hands—cover your eyes—
and hear me say, Life in the river doesn’t
suffer anymore—for you, let me tell a lie. Cover
your eyes—let me play guide. I will
pull us through the water that washes
waves of feathers back to the shore. 
                    When the current rushes too close 

to our mouths, carries us two
miles south—grasp my hand—know 
                    I will love you
more. In the river,
schools of plastic bottles form. We’ll float through,
lifting our legs—

                    our bodies might pass
over abandoned anchors, rusted
barrels, maybe other bodies—submerged 

                    history will hardly cut
us. At the river’s eastern turn,
know that water uses spilt oil
to capture the moon—a clinging shine slides 

                    into our hair soon. The river’s
water will divide itself to rush around
a large rock. Here, if there is another bird—
the body of a peacock
on the boulder’s 

                    face—a foreigner once hoping for an escape
from our country fair—now, neck broke, half the feathers
someone’s pulled from that body—don’t let me see— 

                    promise me, you and I
will make it to a safer shore—that you love me more—
and cover my eyes. I need you to
say, Love, 
                      there’s a bird sleeping on the rock— 
Aliah Lavonne Tigh’s poems have been featured in Guernica, Matter Monthly, The Texas Review, and have been nominated for inclusion in the Best of the Net Anthology. Tigh has joined other writers for the Tin House Summer Workshop, read for Houston’s Poison Pen Reading Series, contributed work for a Gulf Coast Journal and Texas Contemporary ekphrastic collaboration and was a grateful Recipient of Idyllwild Arts’ 2017 Bentley-Buckman Writing Fellowship. She holds poetry and philosophy degrees from the University of Houston and an MFA from Antioch Los Angeles. As a member of Houston's CASM, Creatives for Asylum Seeker and Migrants, she presented with other artists at the 2019 Creative Community Silent Auction benefiting the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative. Tigh is an artist with a dayjob and a hope in our shared future.